Life Skills Camp – Final Day
“Beginnings are often scary, and endings are often sad. But it is everything in between that makes it all worthwhile.”
Today was the final day of our first ever Life Skills camp, and we are giving thanks that it was an incredible week which all of us will remember forever. Before I write more about today, I want to give a deep and sincere thank you to all of our amazing mentors in China, who volunteered this week to invest into these wonderful teens. To Ruan Wei Chang, Liu Hui Ping, Zhuang Li Ying, Yang Ya Wen, Ma Yu Jia, Cai Yan Yue, Sun Li Ping, Chen Min, and Qi Rui – thank you for being a part of our team. And to Cindy, Yvonne and Susie, our LWB China directors who led the camp – your hearts are what make this foundation strong.
The final day of Life Skills camp began with the kids waking up at the seaside. We had arranged a boat ride for them to enjoy the ocean water and breezes. The weather was absolutely perfect, and it was a wonderful morning for everyone.
Then it was time to board the bus back to Beijing, for a special dinner and closing ceremony we had planned to celebrate the week. The kids had been working hard in the evenings to prepare for tonight’s talent show, and we were treated to some really special performances of singing, dancing, and short skits. Some acts were by all the kids at one orphanage, while other groups came together across provinces during the week. So much talent on display!
Each camper was then given letters of affirmation and encouragement from their sponsors and camp leaders to take home as a remembrance of the week.
Then it was time for t-shirt signing, and the kids had a great time writing personal messages to their new friends.
It was such a special evening. We were moved to tears when we received many letters of thanks from the teens saying goodbye. One left an anonymous letter which read:
As the last program ended, my heart fell, and I found myself crying. Words fail me! Was it the drops of gratitude seeping through the last few days? Was it the thoughts, the memories build up over all this time? These last few days, I’ve enjoyed many good things, tasted many delicious things… I feel so grateful! How I wish it was longer, but it was all so interesting! The love you all have shown me when I felt down and helpless has given me the strength and confidence to go on. I will never forget the memories of the time I spent here, and I want to thank you all so much!
Nothing could have summed up this week better than that one line – “The love you all have shown me when I felt down and helpless has given me the strength and confidence to go on.”
Yes, we absolutely wanted to plan a special camp where kids could learn budgeting and personal safety and making wise choices. But more than anything we wanted to leave each and every camper with the message that their lives are so important and that we believe they can make a beautiful future for themselves.
Through this work of course, I get to talk to countless parents who have adopted older children from orphanage care, and so many of the kids come home believing they just don’t matter. Can spending a single week having unconditional love poured upon you really make that much of a difference long term? I believe it can. One of our great Board members is a physician who has adopted several older kids from China. He has an incredible daughter who needs a wheelchair, and she had been given the message during her childhood that because of her special need she was less than worthy. Before her adoption, her dad mailed her a letter, and he prayed and prayed about what he should say. Months after Jasmine was home, she shared with her parents how much that single letter she had received had meant to her. Dan had started the letter by saying “To my beautiful daughter”. Jasmine shared with them that she had always been told how ugly she was and that she read her daddy’s words over and over again and believed them. Jasmine’s heart was moved by a letter written by her daddy whom she had never even met, but she believed fully in his words. She told her parents she took his letter out time and time again and read the words and cried because she was so happy he was coming for her. She said the nannies would say, “What if they don’t make it in time?” and Jasmine would reply, “They are coming. My daddy told me so.”
I share that story again today because I do believe that hearing the powerful message that others believe you are important can be life impacting. And so today I am giving thanks to everyone who made this camp possible. It is my sincerest hope that each and every teen there this week will store these words in their hearts: “You are WONDERFUL, and we believe in your dreams.”
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer
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